Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: In Remember to Forget from Watty Award-winning author Ashley Royer, Levi has refused to speak since the tragic death of his girlfriend, Delia, and can’t seem to come out of his depression and hindering self-doubt. Desperate to make some positive change in Levi’s life, his mother sends him to live with his father in Maine. Though the idea of moving from Australia to America seems completely daunting, Levi passively accepts his fate, but once he lands faces personal struggles and self-doubt at the same time he and his dad battle through resentment and misunderstanding. And then, while at therapy, Levi meets Delilah, a girl who eerily reminds him of someone he lost.

My Thoughts: This book was sweet. One thing that makes it unique is the fact that it is told in a first person narrative by Levi, a male, and Delilah. I haven’t read many books that are narrated from a male perspective, so I enjoyed that. I really disliked Levi for the first half of the book. He has selective mutism, which means he doesn’t speak but the reader gets to hear his thoughts as he is narrating. He seems very ungrateful and kind of mean in the beginning of the book. He is dealing with a lot of grief and pain because of a tragedy but I still found him unlikable at first. As the story progressed, Levi became much more endearing but the change seemed a bit too instantaneous.

Delilah was a great character throughout the book. I loved that she was understanding and kind, even when it would be difficult.

The romance in the story was very sweet. It was nice to see these two teenagers taking things very slow which seems to be extremely rare in YA contemporary books. I also appreciated the fact that there was no swearing or sexual scenes in the book. It was also nice to see the characters relating to their parents and actually listening to their advice.

The writing was not the best but, considering that the author is 17 years old, I’m impressed. There was a moment in the book that is very unrealistic (having to do with patient privacy) but because it wasn’t a major plot point, it didn’t bother me too much.

To be honest, I am not a fan of YA contemporary books…I find them very boring and a bit tedious. But as far as this book goes, it was enjoyable for what it was. I’m just realizing more and more that the genre isn’t for me.

My Rating: 3 stars

 

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

 

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The Mother Letters by Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines

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Goodreads Description: After his wife Amber had given birth to three boys in three years, Seth Haines saw that she needed encouragement in the day-to-day drama and details of motherhood. Secretly collecting nearly six hundred wise, honest, and sometimes hilarious letters from other mothers across the world, Seth compiled these “mother letters” as a gift for her. Amber and Seth have chosen the best of those letters–including letters from some of the most influential writers and bloggers online today–to include in a beautiful book perfect for the mother in your life.
Each mother-to-mother letter offers encouragement, advice, and vulnerable honesty about the struggles and joys of motherhood. These letters show that no matter how many times mothers feel like they’ve failed, they are still doing their greatest work. So for the mom who thinks she’s the only one out there who just can’t find time for a shower, “Mother Letters” shows her that she’s part of a grand and diverse group of strong women who are saying to her, “Me too. But we can do this.”

My Thoughts: This would be the perfect gift for a new mother. The book is full of letters to mothers from mothers. The letters provide encouragement and advice for things that mothers will face.

I am a mother to a soon to be 10 year old and a soon to be 13 year old (a teenager!) so I was excited to pick this up and glean some inspiration from it.

The letters are great (some better than others) but, for the most part, tend to be directed towards new mothers and mothers of young children. I can’t say that I walked away from this book with no new insight, but I didn’t feel as connected to it as I wanted. There were about 5 letters in this book that really inspired me and made me feel better about my performance as a mother, but the rest of them, although very special, would have had much more of an impact on me 10 years ago. This is of no fault of the book or the contributors, I just feel that I’m not exactly the intended audience for this particular book.

I would definitely consider giving this book to a new mom as a gift, it’s packed with very important statements that can’t be found on the secular shelves of the bookstore.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Room For Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.

When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”

Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?

My Thoughts: This book really pulled on my heartstrings. The story revolves around Neva, who is betrayed in one of the worst possible ways…she’s betrayed  by her husband who is now deceased. My heart broke for Neva as she worked through her emotions that came from the knowledge of her husband’s infidelity as well as his children from his other family. Along with the issues associated with her husband’s death, Neva is also dealing with many other problems that arise.

The story was told in a realistic way. Neva wasn’t quick to accept the new children with open arms, she really struggled with this. The supporting characters were also very well developed. I went from despising a character to really liking them and how they changed throughout the book.

This book takes place during the Great Depression in 1936 and was very interesting to read as I had never read a book from that time period. It was interesting to see how this time seemed to be suspended between the past and the future (some people had indoor plumbing, some had outhouses, some people had cars, some still drove wagons).

I also realized when reading this book that some things never change…people were vicious, gossipy, and nasty back then, just as they are today. Often it seems that historical fiction can glamorize the time periods but this book was straightforward on the flaws of the characters.

I am not one for romance in books but I really liked the one featured in this book. It was told in a very realistic way and was paced properly (no insta-love here!) It was also very sweet. I also appreciated that it wasn’t the main focus of the story.

Overall this was a great story with a great lesson in forgiveness and redemption. I am happy that I gave it a chance!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Girls Slimline Bible-NLT Review

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Description: This adorable edition of God’s Word for girls features the easy-to-understand New Living Translation text with a soft-fur, bright-neon “LOVE” design and silver glittery lining. The “BOLD FAITH” design on the back cover encourages girls to live out their faith in ways that bring God glory.This hardcover deluxe edition also features purple page edges, neon orange ribbon marker, special presentation page, 8 pages of full-color maps, and a 53-page dictionary/concordance to help locate passages on various topics.The New Living Translation text is excellent for young readers because it is so clear and they can understand what they are reading! When they can read and understand God’s Word, God can work in their hearts!

My Thoughts: I let my 9 year old daughter have the honor of opening the package when this Bible arrived. She was giddy when she saw it. We were both surprised to find that the texture was fuzzy, not in a tacky way but nice and soft. There is really cute glitter edging and it has an orange bookmark with pages edged with purple. It also has hot pink end pages that really will appeal to girls in the “tweens” age group. The picture really doesn’t do this Bible justice, it’s very aesthetically pleasing in person.

Aside from the looks of the Bible, it also has many great features that will assist with the reader’s spiritual growth. There are several maps, a great Concordance, a list of verses to memorize, as well as a 365 day reading plan that includes dates to help the reader stay on track. There are also red letters to highlight the words of Jesus. The translation is a very reader friendly one, that is helpful for those just starting to get into the word of God.

Overall, I found this Bible to be perfect for girls between ages 7 and 13. The smaller size makes it easier to transport from place to place, it’s visually (and texturally) appealing, and it encourages young girls to get in the word of God. This is definitely a winner!

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

How to Live in Fear by Lance Hahn Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: Let’s face it: we are afraid. Our world is riddled with fear-inducing headlines, financial meltdowns, family crises, and phobias of every stripe. No wonder the New York Times now reports one in ten Americans is now taking antidepressant or anxiety medication. So how do we cope or even succeed in a world spinning out of control? As someone who has battled panic attacks and anxiety most of his life, Lance Hahn can relate.

In How to Live in Fear, Lance tackles the pervasive problem of fear and panic head-on by inviting readers into his world. In this genuine and practical book, he invites readers into the life of a pastor living with anxiety disorder. Through humorous personal stories—like losing it on an airplane or collapsing onstage as he is about to preach—Lance will win over readers with his transparency. He will also share the remedies that have helped him recover and overcome throughout the years.

How to Live in Fear is a public intervention of sorts. We need to talk about this issue, especially the church-at-large. Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders, and the church has done little to make them feel normal. Many Christians now take medication privately but keep it a secret under the shame of being viewed as a failure. Lance willingly bares his soul in order to get the conversation started. He firmly believes the church should not only recognize the issue, but also help believers reconcile the guilt of being a Christian while dealing with dread and anxiety.

My Thoughts: As a Christian who struggles with generalized and social anxiety, I was eager to pick this book up. In my experience, mental health disorders are not often mentioned in the church. This has always bothered me on some level as so many people struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. The silent message that I get from the lack of discussion on the matter is that these things should not be discussed, that people who struggle with anxiety should have more faith or aren’t trusting in God enough. This book was a breath of fresh air for me as the author not only talks about how to deal with anxiety as a Christian, he is also a pastor who, himself struggles with a severe anxiety disorder.

This book covers the use of medications for anxiety, something that I have questioned for a while. Being completely honest, I began taking an anxiety medication in September as my anxiety was running at an all time high and was affecting my life at work and home. This decision was met with disapproval from some of my family members who feared that it would alter my personality or cause addiction. I also felt guilt because to me, it felt like I was giving up on God and turning to another “worldly” option. This book came at the perfect time…the author compares medication for mental health issues to taking medication for a headache or sore throat. This was very enlightening to me and lifted a lot of guilt that I was feeling.

The author shares tips for reducing anxiety, citing many Bible verses to help deal with challenges we face. He also shows us how God can use our fear for His glory.

I found this book to be very comforting as well as empowering. I have spent a lot of time feeling like no one close to me understands what this anxiety can feel like, but this book changed that. The author gets it. It is a book that I will refer to often in the future.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

My Thoughts: Before reading this book I knew very little about the Lusitania or even World War 1 for that matter. I had heard of the Lusitania in name only. I was a bit hesitant to pick up this book as don’t tend to enjoy war stories, but this book was phenomenal! Several times while reading this, I had to remind myself that I was reading a non-fiction book because the writing style was not what I have experienced with past non-fiction stories (dry, boring). This story was suspenseful and very hard to put down.

Many characters are introduced in this story but Larson does a great job at reminding the reader who each person is when referred to later. Getting to know these people that were on board made the story very real and all the more sad. Along with the characters, Larson includes things they wrote about their time on board. While reading, you are unaware who will survive and who won’t which adds to the suspense of the story.

The reader is a first hand witness to the fear and terror that these people experienced. Mothers losing their children, children losing their parents, people witnessing the loss of lives and floating among the dead. Such a sad event.

This book also opened my eyes to how despicable humans can be. Both the Germans and the British had a part in this tragic disaster, each for their own selfish reasons. I was filled with frustration and anger as I read of all the ways this could have been prevented.

Overall this was an amazing book. Larson is an extremely gifted and talented writer, who truly brings history to life. I will definitely be picking up more of his books in the future.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Restore my Soul by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

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Goodreads Description: Grab your colored pencils and get ready to refresh your spirit with this coloring book devotional journey!For lovers of the “Secret Garden” and “Enchanted Forest” coloring books, “Restore My Soul” is a beautiful, interactive devotional designed to celebrate our unique creativity and connect us with the ultimate Creator. Find refreshment in short reflections on Scripture and be inspired as you color accompanying intricate illustrations created for meditation and prayer. Both contemplative and imaginative, “Restore My Soul” is the perfect space for the artist in us all.

My Thoughts: I have been really enjoying adult coloring books…they keep my hands busy in the evenings while watching TV and help me avoid snacking. The pictures within this book are beautiful and inspirational with sayings like “fix your eyes on Jesus”, “Cast your cares on him” , and “Celebrate today”. Beside each coloring page is a devotional that corresponds with each picture. The devotionals begin with a Bible verse and are presented with a practical illustration to go with the verse.

Coloring is a very therapeutic activity for me, when I’ve had a long day, I find that I feel less stressed after coloring. I appreciate that this book has a mixture of very detailed pictures as well as larger, less time-consuming pictures. I am considering framing some of thee pictures once colored, to hang in my home. Overall, this is a great book and would make a great gift.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.